Gavin Williamson grilled by Ferrari over school closures
Gavin Williamson was left floundering after Nick Ferrari pointed out undelivered pledges made by Home Secretary Priti Patel that schools would reopen in January. Gavin Williamson struggled to come up with an answer and instead reiterated his department’s pledge to “preserve and protect” schools amid the spread of the new coronavirus variant. The minister‘s integrity was called into question by Mr Ferrari as he said Government promises were made one moment and broken in the next.
Mr Ferrari spoke to Mr Williamson on his breakfast show and said: “It is interesting you would mention schools closing because this was my conversation last month with Priti Patel.”
In the clip, Mrs Patel told LBC: “So my colleague, Gavin Williamson, is working with schools to look at plans for schools to go back.
“But also ensuring we have the protective and preventative measures in place, such as mass testing, to keep our children safe.
“I am confident schools will be returning in January, no doubt about that.”
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Mr Ferrari picked up on her claim and followed up with: “No doubt about that… so the assurance that the exams will go ahead was wrong.
“The assurance that school pupils will be returning was wrong, why should my listeners have any faith in you and your colleagues?”
The Education Secretary responded: “What we’ve seen globally is the largest disruption since the Second World War…”
Mr Ferrari interrupted: “I wonder if we could focus on Westminster though.”
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Mr Williamsom replied: “It won’t surprise you Nick the last thing I’ve ever wanted to see is schools closing again for a second time, all but for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
“But it is a decision, a national decision, we had to make in the national interest.
“We were having to take the really incredibly difficult step, as this new variant spread, (and take) even more extreme action that we have had to do in terms of the second national lockdown.
“Where we are able to preserve and protect schools by keeping them open.
“But due to the new variant we had to make a different decision, and it wasn’t what any of us wanted to make, but it is a decision we found ourselves in.
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“At all stages, we want to protect education, that’s why schools were the last to close.”
Mr Williamson assured parents in a Sky interview that the schools would have a two-week notice before reopening.
He said: “What we will be wanting to do is to give schools as much notice as possible so teachers can get ready, children can prepare, and parents know in order to manage their lives.
“We would want to give all schools a clear two weeks’ notice period in order to be able to ready themselves.”
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